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Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Pineapple Express

In my claim to see as many movies as possible by the end of the year, particularly Best Picture nominees, I did not think that I would get down to watching a gross-out stoner comedy from the Judd Apatow production crew. But, then again, you do surprise yourself every now and again. Judd Apatow has become a phenomenon in comedy ever since last year's massive success in Knocked Up and Superbad. That is as good a one-two comedy punch as one could ever ask for. Also released this year under the same banner of which I have seen was Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a not so great film which was nonetheless enjoyable. But here what we have seems to be the natural progression after the low-budget hits of last year, Pineapple Express. Apatow regular Seth Rogen returns, this time as Dale Denton, a process server who witnesses a murder, and in the middle of the mayhem goes off on the run with his cannabis dealer Saul, played by James Franco. Now, to open about all the positives of the film, what I must say is that Seth Rogen himself as the lead is enjoyable to watch from a comedic sense, but nonetheless symptathetic, relatable and lovable. All of the characters that he plays as a lead are the variations on the same character, but you know what, he does it well and deserves his credibility. However, the acting performance that steals the film is that of James Franco. Franco is an actor who personally I feel is horribly overlooked. He was great as Harry Osbourne in the Spider-Man trilogy, and in this film, despite having a supporting role doubtless deserves credit. He goes against his usual serious roles and seems to relish the opportunity to play Saul. I feel that his role in this is one of the best comedic performances of the year, alongside that of Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. He has totally immersed himself in this role and looks rather comfortable as the stoner/drug dealer, with his ever familiar attire of jogging bottoms and t-shirt and slurred speech. He stands par on par with comedy regular Rogen, creating a perfectly believable and humorous buddy duo. Also, the film is well-directed by David Gordon Green, who has had no previous experience in the comedy genre, with a background instead in small, independent dramas. He, like Franco, seems to have adapted well in a very chameleon-esque manner to this otherwise foreign genre to him. With his experience on these dramas, he manages to keep control of the anarchy ensuing throughout the film. However, this is where the fun stops in my opinion. The fundamental problem with Pineapple Express as a film comes from its fatally flawed script. While Rogen and Franco may well be able to pull off great witticisms on weed and deliver some funny punchlines, there are a number of problems which hinder the script. For starters, like I said, there is a lot of anarchy onscreen. Personally, I have no problem with anarchy onscreen, but the film attempts to do what most films fail at doing, is make a multi-stranded, fast-cut, zoom zoom edited plot which ends up being rather incoherent at parts. I mean, they should focus on the chase of the two main characters, not have scenes with irrelevant people who no one really cares about. Granted, the scenes with the two assassins chasing them are humorous and parallel with the lead characters themselves, but cut out the stuff with the gangs. I mean, no one wants to see drug lords arguing and fighting. It just seems like unnecessary material which is rather intrusive and distracting from the comedy we are getting from Franco and Rogen. For example, we are introduced to characters, who are merely left in the open and under-developed, making it seem like they are characters who simply could have been cut out to make a leaner film. Also, unlike many of the scripts written by Rogen, Apatow and Evan Goldberg, the plot, like Rogen's character in the film, is a variation of already seen material. It is rather thin in the respect that while we get all this putty to cover it up, the story is predictable, and everything we expect to happen does happen. I don't know if this is because I watch too many movies, but I just feel that this is rather samey, despite the fluffy exterior. In many respects, it takes the same direction that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg took after Shaun Of The Dead. Both Shaun and Knocked Up were low-budget comedys, and much in the same direction as Hot Fuzz, Pineapple Express proceeds to up the ante and have lots of guns and explosions. Whereas in Hot Fuzz you can buy it because there is a genuine plot behind it all, the climax of Pineapple Express seems rather nonsensical and too large for a duo of stoners. In conclusion, my opinions on Pineapple Express are mixed, because while there is solid direction and genuine charm and wit from the two leads, it falls on the short end of the stick with regards to its weak script. Hot Fuzz with weed.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 5.9/10

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